Football and Politics

I don’t really like talking a lot about football or politics.

Not these days, when it seems like no one is listening. Whenever I enter a discussion with someone about either topic I always listen first. I want to know what opinions a person has formed. Then I want to know why. I find that most people honestly can’t wait to share their thoughts on either topic with me, and I often get sought out to hear those very thoughts. It’s great. I know a lot about both topics so, please, seek me out.

But, invariably, I’m disappointed with the discussion. Why? Because most people don’t listen.

I don’t mean that they don’t agree with me; I’m not only okay with that but I’m encouraged by it. If others have put in the time and effort to learn important ideas about my favorite topics then that excites me, whether their conclusions concur with mine or not. Here’s an important thing to understand about research: it can lead you to a lot of different conclusions. Just because you’ve dug in and I’ve dug in doesn’t mean we reached the same opinion. Knowledge does not equate to infallibility. It adds depth, but one can know a lot about something and still be wrong about it.

I’m okay with that. I’ve admitted as much. In fact, there’s an old entry I need to look up – it was a crowd favorite – where I admitted that I am probably mostly wrong about everything and probably so are you.*

So, no, I don’t mind that we disagree. You don’t lose me in the discussion the moment you disagree with me. I don’t stop talking because I think you’re wrong. I stop talking because you aren’t paying attention.

It generally doesn’t take long to ascertain that distinction. I can tell immediately when my words aren’t affecting you, when you’re thinking about your next talking point instead of listening to my input on the same. And I tune you out the moment I notice. We’re not in a discussion, and you’ve invalidated your opinion.

On the other hand, I love to talk about football and politics with anyone who likes to. Likes to listen, to respond, to consider all sides even if they adamantly prefer their own. I have deep-seated, strong opinions of my own that I can back with a combination of facts and rhetoric. Tom Brady is the best QB I have ever seen play the game. Colin Kaepernick is an above-average NFL player. Ilhan Omar is a good American. Donald Trump is a misogynistic, entirely self-serving, authoritarian, hapless imbecile. You may have strong opinions about each of those individuals – and I’d love to hear them – but you probably won’t convince me otherwise on any of those matters. You might, however, be able to counter with “Joe Montana was every bit as good as Tom Brady,” “Colin Kaepernick is a distraction,” or “Hillary is just as bad,” and be able to come up with facts and rhetoric to back that up. I love it. Please do.

Just don’t for a moment think that your opinion is the only one that counts. I can tell when you do. Talk. Listen. Talk. Listen. Laugh. Consider. I’m blessed with a bevy of compatriots and acquaintances on all sides of the political and pigskin spectrum that can do just that. For them I am grateful.

As for the rest. Meh. Find someone who agrees with you and only you (it might only be you) and talk to them, only. Stay in the bubble. I’ll be out here learning.

Tonight two of my favorite things in the world collide. On ABC the top ten candidates in the Democratic race for president meet in the third national debate. On NFL Network the Carolina Panthers face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second Thursday Night Football game of the 2019 campaign. Politics. Football. I can’t get enough of either. I’m picking Booker, Warren, Yang, and the Panthers tonight.

Who you got? 👂😏

*it was called Imperfect Information and was, alas, lost in the archive wash.

29 thoughts on “Football and Politics

  1. Well put, but sadly, this is where we stand these days. Terminal polarization seems to have become humanity’s de-facto state, and like any big, mindless force, it finds it way from its origins in the sociopolitical realm to every possible thing one can imagine – like sports and reality shows and reusable grocery bags. This, of course, has everything to do with my recent stubborn insistence on confining my public expression to beating Fifteen to death and then continuing to beat its bloated corpse until it becomes funny again. I literally can’t think of anything to say about less trivial topics that would be of any constructive help to anyone. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is why I love reading your thoughts on those matters that I’ve abandoned. Though I sometimes may not share your optimism regarding particular issues, it is the optimism itself that gives me hope and makes me remember that sometimes, human beings can be awesome. Thanks for providing that vital reminder.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Paul! It’s true and frustrating what you say, we are so divided. Not just as Americans but as a humanity that hasn’t (yet?) figured out how to truly coexist — with each other or with this wonderful planet we call home. I hold out hope, like you say, that humanity will eventually get its act together, but I understand the pessimism to that idea. What have we done to show we are capable of anything better? Some, I say, though not enough. I watch and participate with fascination and I do truly believe we will find a way to evolve rather than destroy ourselves. Some days I believe that more than others. Thank you again, Paul, for those incredible words. You humble me.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that is why I am here. I even have detractors right here in the blogosphere, and I encourage them to join the debate. I relish it!

      I definitely look forward to seeing those true competitors go at it tonight, and I don’t mean in football. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sister Rita! It’s a strong emotion, apathy, and hard to stay engaged, for all of us. But I still think we’re winning the fight (even after reading all the local comments about last night’s debates from this conservative county). Most live in a bubble; we gotta live outside it (and pop ’em when we can 😉 ).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a dangerous emotion. Like hypertension, it’s a silent killer. Most don’t even know they have it until everything starts to fail. This is why I’m so grateful for hopeful souls like you and the unfettered laughter of children. They are vaccines against the cancer of apathy. A constant infusion of life giving hope ❤️


  2. Hey Tom,
    I enjoy listening to others’ thoughts…including listening about politics at times. However, I try and stay out of the discussions for many of the reasons you stated above. I have enough stress, thank you very much! Have you ever listened to Bottomlesscupofcoffee007? I recently discovered him. He has a podcast and a lot of what he writes and talks about is political. Tell him I said “Howdy” if you decide to visit. Mona

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom I wish I had taken a screenshot of that beautiful post of yours “Imperfect Information”! I even did a Google search to see if it exists anywhere in the web! Thanks for the link to my old post! I’m sad that that quote is all that could be salvaged of it. I remember how cleverly you described just how much data actually exists out there, how a single mind was like a grain of sand in this deluge! Both awesome and humbling!

    But not everyone gets the “awesome” part, they just protect themselves from the “humbling” part, not realizing these two things are tied together. You can’t grow, if you can’t open up; you can’t have a discussion, if you can’t listen. I totally get your disappointment, I think too many people identify themselves with strong opinions, when they should actually be extremely critical of opinions themselves (as Tim Minchin so aptly said in his college speech). Like you, I try to be compassionate to everyone, listen and keep an open mind, but it’s the intolerance, anger/fear, and silencing of criticism and discussion that is a giant red flag! If one’s beliefs depend on that, they are questionable indeed!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The advent of social media has made it worse. I can honestly talk to MOST people one on one and have a civil conversation with the same people who spread only hate and vitriol online. Some of them, however, won’t pay attention to a thing in person, either … they just tune into their own repeat playing in their own heads. They’re frozen. Honestly, that’s the MAGA-crowds biggest limitation: they’re frozen in their personal growth. This is why an autocrat appeals to them; they want someone else to make the decisions so they can stay in their bubble. This is the same phenomena that made Rush Limbaugh so popular in the 80s/90s (and honestly why I tuned in back then when I knew nothing). No one wants to take the time to learn, and mass media makes it easy to get validation rather than evolution.

      I have the rough draft of that post (and all the old ones) on my old hard drive. I’ll find it and get it out there again. Promise!


  4. I will talk football (or sports in general) all day long. I find talking about politics frustrating these days and tend to keep my opinions to myself, although I would not be surprised to author one, and only one, post about the 2020 elections some time next year.

    I haven’t spent any time watching the debates, primarily because I don’t believe it is time worth spending. The candidate that emerges will be the one that emerges, whether I like them or not. My only concern is that whoever emerges from that scrum can have a broad enough appeal to crush that lazy, uninformed, arrogant, egoistical, megalomaniacal, misogynistic and cruel excuse of a occupant (have I left anything out) we have now by historical proportions, although a thin margin will do. The cherry on top would be to have that do nothing McConnell suffer the same fate.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think you left anything out, although the number of negative adjectives that can be used to describe this president number in the infinite. Having him and that POS McConnell shipped out, for good, would be fantastic. Our evolution is frozen with the likes of them in there.

      I always put on the debates while prepping dinner and the like, to get a good feel of where our heads are at. It’s gonna be a contentious but historic election season, and I look forward to your thoughts when you post!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just had a conversation with an acquaintance I’ve known for about a year and it turns out that his politics are so diametrically opposite to mine (very alt-right) that I was shocked. It’s bizarre that people are so OK with saying ridiculous, racist shit and then are like, “But it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it.” And then you’re left with a choice–lose the friendship or never talk about anything important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so tough. I have a friend, huge Trump supporter, I sat with for a bit yesterday morning, while we watched his Cowboys with some other friends. Whenever we’re together it hangs in the air until one of us finally makes a joke or comment that leans one way or the other politically and it begins. It always gets heated and, with him, personal. He cannot believe that everyone is so “blind” to Donald Trump’s “greatness.” After a few minutes everyone else told us to shut up (as they should) and we laughed and agreed to stick to talking about football. We get along fine, until that comes up. We won’t even pay attention to each other’s Facebook anymore. It is tough. I feel ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for posting. There are two posts you might enjoy. The first is about diversity of humanity. The fact that we have different customs, ideas, religions — if viewed rightly is both a testament to the success of the human species — and also a survival hedge against disaster. The second describes a process called “Bohm Dialog” — a group working together to develop and share meaning (as opposed to a debate or a discussion where everyone is obsessed with “scoring points” and “winning”).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for responding, John! I just bookmarked ya and plan to check those articles out today. Your About page greatly intrigued me, and your books are right up my alley. Thanks again, compadre!


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